Tapp.online can safely be called revolutionary. The Frisian company has developed an alternative data logger by integrating sensors and chips with paper made from agricultural waste. Meanwhile, tests are being carried out at some 30 AGF companies. "We are treading a somewhat exceptional path. Normally, a startup identifies a problem and invents a solution to it. We had a solution and then went to see where we could best monetize it. Little did I know that the entire fresh produce sector used data loggers," Niels Postma laughs.
Left: Freshclusive has been a customer from the very beginning
Right: Niels Postma during the Fruit Attraction in Madrid
Because until a few years ago, the Friesian had nothing to do with the fresh produce sector. "I studied law at the University of Amsterdam but didn't feel like flipping through the law book all my life. I ended up as a lawyer at a printing company. For me, that was a completely different world; I didn't even know the difference between a press and a printer. That had the advantage that I looked at the paper with completely different eyes than professionals do. I saw in it a means of connecting between brand and customer, for example. Everything around us is becoming smart, from a coffee machine to a lamp to a camera. Then I thought: why can't this be done with paper?"
"Because by itself, paper is a very beautiful raw material. It is easy and cheap to recycle worldwide. The only problem is that until recently, nothing was measured with it. We started working on that by making paper intelligent. Where before it was an analog thing, we made it interactive. We hid three elements in the paper: a sensor, a battery, and an NFC chip. When you hold your phone against it, the chip converts the data from the sensor and allows the user to read that data, for example, on a site. There is no app to put on your phone. Just a 'tapp' is enough to get the information from the paper onto your phone.
The first company to start working with the smart paper loggers was the neighboring potato breeding company HZPC. "They were lyrical. They got the opportunity with our loggers to use them as carriers of intelligence instead of a whole bunch of plastic products that you also throw away after a single use. The paper also allowed them to send crop descriptions and storage recommendations along with the temperature loggers, so they could give their customers much more information anywhere in the world. Thanks to our innovation, the data loggers are therefore used much more as a marketing tool. The papers can be printed in all desired languages, colors, and logos. It thus becomes a complete, personalized, and very own data logger/temprecorder!"
Meanwhile, Tapp.online is being used by 30 companies in their daily operations. "The product is already commercially available. From those thirty companies, we are now receiving a lot of feedback which we are processing. With this, we are refining the product. We are not fresh produce specialists, but by developing this product together with the sector, we are combining the best of both worlds. This autumn, I expect we will be able to add those with one big update to the very latest version," Niels said. "The applications of our product are versatile, for example, we measure not only temperature but also humidity, and we have added shock sensors. The hardware is designed so that we can add sensors to the logger quite easily."
The price of the current logger is around 15 euros each, just below the standard temperature loggers on the market. "But if we go up in production with the numbers, the price will also be able to come down a bit," Niels expects. He himself considers the sustainability benefits achieved with Tapp.online's loggers to be the biggest gain. "We do not use wood fiber, but agricultural waste as the basis for the paper. With that, we work pretty much circularly. Today, standard data loggers are thrown in the rubbish as electronic waste. That is disastrous for the world. Our smart loggers can just go with the waste paper, and the information can be shared on all phones."
Postma has no complaints about interest. "The response we have had, many a startup can only dream of. Food group Nestlé, among others, has already signed up, but for us, fresh produce is the most important market. At the Fruit Attraction in Madrid, I was positively surprised by the market potential. Everyone active in fresh produce import and export uses data loggers. For us, there is a world to conquer.